HomeOpinionColumn: Talking about transparency isn’t the same as being transparent

Column: Talking about transparency isn’t the same as being transparent



When The Augusta Press launched in 2021, every attempt was made to have a positive relationship with local government and law enforcement, including the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office; however, from day one they were combative. It has been painfully clear they had zero desire even to acknowledge ...

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  1. This editorial will certainly not help The Augusta Press get any help from the Sherriff’s office. For Some reason the media, in general think they are the beacon of all hope for the citizen. When in reality they are only splitting and creating a divide amongst the people. The local media has been on Sheriff Roundtree since the day he anounced for office. Maybe if you tried to support the office instead of destroying it, there would be a diffferent working relationship. Why do’t you do an article on some of the positives that are going on under your radar.Perhaps the blinders that you where are the reason that you get no cooperation. I did not vote for Sherriff Roundtree but I have given him a chance. I see an effort to become a part of the people, with the Sheriff’s office being present at many local affairs not policing but as an agent of change, information and unity. We don’t see any of the constant arguing through racist lenz as we did in the past. I have asked many officers of their opinion of Sherrif Roundtree. All have been positive. You can blame the rise in crime on him, but that is unfair. It comes from the Beltway and a shift in the morales and lack of judicial prudence in sentencing and incarceration that is too close to vacation. We have a new Mayor and a new hope. If Mayor Johnson and Sherriff Roundtree will work together to solve our county problems. Change will happen for the better.

    • We have written positive stories on the RCSO. When they tell us about things that are positive we write about them. Unfortunately they don’t even seem to want positive news put out about them. It is interesting you say that officers told you their opinion of the sheriff is all positive. That is not true of most that have spoken with us and other media. It certainly isn’t true for the tons that have quit and left the department. The sheriff and his policies and leadership style continue to be the biggest hindrance to recruitment. Not his relationship with the media.

  2. Mr. publisher do Columbia County Sheriff’s Office even have body cam? Speaking of Burke County what’s going on in the Burke County Sheriff’s Office? No doubt you believe TAP columns and editorials are fair and balanced. My interpretation TAP opinion pieces gaslight personalities with vitriol which amount to yellow journalism!

  3. IIRC, soon after he took office, Sheriff Roundtree (aka “Grateful Mother”) forbade deputies and their supervisors from speaking to the media under penalty of disciplinary action. He appointed a trusted subordinate as the department mouthpiece. The deputies I have spoken with are not thrilled with his leadership or his lack recognizing them for there hard work. Many of the deputies are contract employees who had POST certification prior to joining the RCSO. They have no advancement potential and must pay for advanced training/certification by extending their contract or pay back the cost if they leave before completing the extension. His trusted, hand-selected minions know and toe the party line, through devotion to his agendas or fear of losing a job and pension. Politics is a tough environment – thin-skinned whiners need not apply. If the sheriff does not like the public criticism of his public job, he can resign and become a member of the public.

  4. Joe,

    Since you didn’t post the Sheriff’s Office podcast that you referenced in your editorial. I thought I would provide some amplifying details for the readers. Yes, I did point out that there is a double standard whereas Sheriff Roundtree and the local media are concerned.

    I pointed out that a Sheriff in another county was receiving significant scrutiny by one Augusta media outlet. However, there was crickets from The Augusta Press and the others. If this was Sheriff Roundtree, it would’ve been the lead story for two weeks.

    14 years ago, we led the way by establishing a body worn camera program when I was Chief of the Richmond County Board of Education Police. We did this pretty quickly at the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office 3-4 years later. Now, all of the area agencies have them with the exception of a lone sheriff’s office.

    Your open letter to me was laughable. How in the world would you think you could compare Richmond County and Columbia County in terms of crime. Richmond County median family income is $43,000. Columbia County’s median family income is double that and in my home area of Evan’s, it is $112,000.

    Anyone that knows anything about crime knows it is a socio-economic issue. Crime is more prevalent in the poor areas. That is just a sad fact of life. To say that Columbia County deals with the same challenges as our agency is preposterous. With that being said, we have significantly reduced and maintained crime reductions over the last 10 years. We have reduced crimes against persons by about 30% and crimes against property by 50%. Is crime higher than we want? Absolutely.

    Our deputies are working hard every day and when a criminal sees black and gray pursuing them, it strikes fear in their hearts. Our deputies and investigators catch bad guys and this is beyond dispute. Our clearance rates for murder are 83% against a national average of 56%. Our property crime clearance rate of 32% might not sound good until you consider its double the national rate of 15%. Our deputies catch bad guys.

    In regards to Open Records Reqests involving criminal cases, the courts have long held that the proper venue for records to be produced are in the courts especially while the case is pending. Both the government and the defendants have rights. While I will not comment on the specifics of pending cases, I believe you are going to lose.

    Just two weeks ago, your Editorial Board said that Pat Clayton was a good lawman with a stellar career track record. You then try to trash the Sheriff and my silent endorsement of the Sheriff. I am proud of our record at the Sheriff’s Office and I’m even more proud of the deputies. If you take a honest look at our policies and procedures, you will find they are not only model policies but many of them are “cutting edge.”

    Just thought that your readers should know the rest of the story in case they didn’t catch the Podcast.

    Best Regards,

    Patrick Clayton

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